Minister Charged With Sexual Abuse of Underage 'Maidens' Is on the Run

Alleged cult leader Victor Barnard is on the run from law enforcement, after being charged with 59 counts of sexual misconduct with two of his minor followers. A nationwide warrant was issued on April 11, when he was believed to be in the Spokane, Washington area, where his religious group relocated from Minnesota in 2008.

Airports and borders are being checked for the fugitive, but investigators think it's more likely that his "followers may be shuffling him from home to home."

It's believed that he sexually molested many other underage girls, who lived on his compound and were known as "maidens."


According to Pine County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Blackwell, the 59 counts are only representative of the two now-grown women who have come forward to testify against the 52-year-old leader of River Road Fellowship and self-proclaimed mouthpiece of God.

“We are hoping to find more that are willing to come forward,” Blackwell said. “I don’t know how we couldn’t think that” there are more girls and women abused in Barnard’s “secret little world,” he added.

The two women, Jess Schweiss and Lindsey Tornambie, describe a horrific environment where they were sent away from their families to live at Barnard's compound called Shepherd's Camp. They were the youngest two of 10 members of the specially chosen "maidens," and they were called upon to treat Barnard "like a rock star."

Beginning at age 12 or 13, he began to routinely rape them -- with their parents' permission. Can you imagine? How would you know what to do when the people you look to for moral guidance allow such a terrible crime to be committed against you? Jess said, "These are people I've known since I was a toddler, people I grew up with ... they were, at one point, the only people I knew."

She continued, "I still had a conscience; I knew it was wrong ... I don't look at them as my parents anymore ... they weren't the parents I wanted or needed. My parents, the people I grew up with as a child, don't exist anymore."

Ugh, break my heart!

Lindsay said that she's glad there may finally be some justice for what she endured. “To know that they actually care, that people actually do care about what happened means so much,” she said.

She had tried to leave the group when she was 15 but was convinced to stay by Barnard, clergy members, fellow maidens, and her parents, lest she risk damnation from God. She went back out of fear. “I was really scared, and I didn’t know what receiving damnation from God would be like,” she said. “I ended up just staying.”

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Victor Barnard, please call 320-629-8342.


Can you imagine being so brainwashed that you would sacrifice your children?


Image via KMSP-TV

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